Saturday, 31 March 2012

Works like a charm

Queens Park Rangers 2 Arsenal 1

I can't actually believe we won today. When the final whistle blew everything went in to slow motion because the final minutes were a frantic as always and I was convinced Arsenal would pop in a goal unfairly. But I guess that's the point. In this instance, we actually 100% deserved this win and it would have been unfair if we lost.

Before the match I bumped in to some fellow fans, among them @sandyhoops. We talked about the charms that we wear to bring us luck, and the things that we don't bring to avoid a bad game. One could say that we feel so powerless as fans that we can only hope that the superstitious things we do might somehow have some kind if impact on what happens on the pitch. I'm convinced that if I wash my QPR shirt before the end of the season we won't stay up and quite frankly I don't care how bad it smells by the time we get to the 13th of May.

Is it wrong to believe we have a part to play with these actions? Perhaps it's a little silly, but it's only one part of what we do, together with the money we spend, the songs we sing, and the countless hours on trains, buses and cars we spend to support the Rs away. There are even those fans like @richardtreml who said in jest that he knew we'd win by not going today.

Our much lambasted captain Joey Barton said in the programme today 'It's vitally important that the people you work for - appreciate you and believe in you'. And he was talking directly about the fans. It's so easy for us to criticise, and certainly I was one of them last week after the Sunderland game. I was fed up with what appeared to be a lack of commitment and team spirit in key players including Barton. Sometimes, the way he expresses himself just doesn't endear him to us and I can't quite understand what he says. But perhaps it is because he is so confident in who he is as a person that it often comes across as a personal as opposed to a collaborative crusade, which isn't actually the case. And evidence on the pitch today suggests he is a team player.  Long may this more passionate spirit from him continue.

But he also went straight to the point saying that we turned the game around against Liverpool because 'the crowd got behind the lads' and 'all of a sudden we thought we could could get something'. He has mentioned this a few times in the programme, which suggests he truly believes this. And that excites me because we honestly did not play well for most of that Liverpool game, but simply by being totally behind the team, we probably made a difference. It was an unlikely and rare turnaround though, so why we expected to have such a great result at Sunderland looking back is beyond me. We cannot rely on such good fortune all the time (a team like Liverpool breaking down in the last 15 minutes).

And today? Well, today was different. Today, almost every player on the pitch worked really hard. We weren't lucky to win, we deserved to win through hard graft, passion and determination. Of course we aren't supposed to be anywhere near as good as Arsenal on paper, and there were several hairy moments when I am sure my blood pressure went up. Derry, Diakite, Barton, Taarabt stand out as key players - a solid mid field which was critical against such a team. And what a great goal from Taarabt which I am sure I will watch a few times this evening (bring on MOTD for a change!).

Speaking of Taarabt, I often forget just how young he is - born in 1989 he will be just 23 in May - and if he can play that well at this level now we haven't even seen his best yet.  In spite of our difficulties as a club,  I feel he has matured in his approach to how he plays the game both as a personality and a footballer. He is a joy to watch and when he is on form he works like a charm and is absolutely magic. It was a shame that he got booked for an extended celebration and I am looking forward to seeing how/why he got hold of that fez. But there it is. A player like Taarabt can make things look easy, and while we may say he is magical,  we can now say that he is actually solid and hard working.

On the subject of lucky charms and Taarabt, on my way home I thought about those snake charmers that you see in Marrakesh's Jemaa El Fna square. They say that they literally hypnotise the snakes through music, and I've seen pictures of these guys literally charming a few snakes at a time. I have no idea how hard a snake has to work to perform (there is also probably some animal cruelty playing a part here too), but it does take at least one snake charmer and one snake to keep the show going. So whether you believe in luck or not, let's continue to play our part and get behind the boys.

You Rsss.

Snake Charmers in Morocco (Source:

Sunday, 25 March 2012

'Hard done by'

Sunderland 3 Queens Park Rangers 1

That's exactly how some of the Queens Park Rangers players feel right now. They earn tens of thousands of pounds a week, have a more than comfortable lifestyle, and yet, they are playing terrible football as well as suffering from indicipline. And still they get to keep their jobs.

On the other side of the coin, you have a frustrated Owner and Chairman who have done all they promised to do, and thousands of fans who not only spend their hard-earned money on a Season Ticket but spends hundreds of pounds a week and countless hours supporting the Rangers away from home.

It is frustrating that we haven't yet had any kind of winning streak so far this season. But what is more frustrating is that we have players who don't appear to feel or behave as if this predicament we are in is in any way their responsiblitity. This, I must say, is what angers me the most.

The online Urban Dictionary  site  has this definition for the phrase 'Hard done by'

'This wonderful ironic phrase is used to describe someone who is acting as if Fate has just dealt him or her a terrible blow, when they have, in reality, suffered a minor inconvenience and should just get on with it.
On the other hand, "hard done by" should NEVER be used to describe someone who is trying to recover from a genuinely tragic event.'
Firstly, we have our infamous captain Joey Barton. He admits he played badly last Wednesday. Credit to him for admitting it. I respect someone who can admit when he's s***. But be prepared to take the backlash from fans once you've done that. You can't expect people not to react to you, whether they are right or not. Humans simply aren't like that, and when you decide to make your life and thoughts so public you of course have a right to respond, but you probably don't have a right to constantly kick off and feel so 'hard done by'. And if you are a man like Joey Barton, who lives a wonderfully luxurious lifestyle, you will get little sympathy from others, including those who support you. So when he says there 'nothing he can do' because he is sitting on the bench, you just think to yourself, really? Is that his attitude? Does he actually think that in his current form he would have made a difference and that the world has been so bad to him for not giving him the opportunity? This attitude just isn't good enough. I would expect a captain to be completely behind his team and any selections made, and would expect that through admitting he isn't good enough to play right now, provide the right kind of support for everyone at least emotionally if not physically, instead of sitting there yawning  for all to see on MOTD and having a giggle when Taiwo scores the only goal for the Rs. 

And secondly, we have Cisse. First time he was sent off earlier this year, most of us tended to forgive him. After all, it was an emotional reaction based on his feelings on two horrific injuries he has had. But this time around, not only is there no excuse, but his reaction on the pitch - like a little boy who tried to pretend he hasn't done anything wrong when he knows full well he has- comes from the same ilk as Joey Barton's behaviour. It just smacks of being 'unsportsmalike' and I am quite sick of players wearing the QPR badge acting as if the world has been conspiring aginst them. 

Contrast this with the way that Bolton have come together since last week's terrible event at White Hart Lane. While I don't want to belittle in any way, what happened to Fabrice Muamba by comparing it to the troubles of a load of spoiled football players at Loftus Road, what we have seen with how Bolton have come back is players with real heart, playing well because they have something to prove. And I have no doubt that they will survive in the Premier League. We have players who think they have nothing to prove and therefore I feel no ounce of a competitive streak in them. 

Last week Fate dealt Fabrice Muamba, and Botlon, a terrible blow. But QPR has everything going for it, and the players are pissing it away disrepectfully for everyone to see.

I am not saying this of all the QPR players, but a few bad eggs make it worse for everyone else. And something has to be done to either shake these guys up, or take them out of the first team completely to salvage our pride as a football club more than anything else.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

We won! We won! We won!

Queens Park Rangers 3 Liverpool 2

I am in no doubt that tonight will go down in history as one QPR's greatest comebacks. I am also in no doubt that we were not the best team on the pitch tonight for most of the game. For 70 minutes of the match, and at different points, we looked nervy and lost. And Barton really had a terrible game. I believe over the last few months he has become a bit of a scapegoat - in some games he does make the most awful passes but usually more than makes up for it with his efforts up and down the pitch. But tonight I am sorry that he was pretty shocking, and I am so glad that Hughes had the guts to take him off with plenty of time still left on the clock.

It was a Liverpool fan who came to the game - a good friend of mine - who said that when Barton came off, it changed everything. He was absolutely right. Mackie brought pace and passion as he always does. But for me, the man of the match was Shaun Derry. Apart from scoring a goal, he played some really classy football and was solid from the off.  I am told by a source that Derry has really come in to his own this season in part due to improved fitness  and work rate at training. All power to him for that, it's an inspiration to anyone who thinks they may have  be 'past it' in whatever they love to do. Amazing that we are talking about our players from last season - but I guess @sandyhoops was right, and no wonder it rattled Joey Barton enough to make her the first QPR fan he has ever responded to directly on twitter.

As I mentioned, a couple of good friends who are Liverpool fans were at the game. One of them was hiding a few rows behind me among QPR supporters.  I tell you. We were so bad and when we had 30 minutes left, I was already quite calmly thinking about the future in the Championship. One of the guys next to me stopped watching - he had his head down between his legs. It was just awful. I wasn't even praying for a miracle anymore.

When we scored the first goal, the minutiae a second's delay in cheering showed just how unsure we were that we had actually scored. There wasn't a huge amount of time left on the clock but I saw Cisse shout at the other team members positively - he was looking like he thought we could still take something out of the game. I was really impressed by that there and then. But did I really think we'd score the second, or the third? In my wildest dreams.

I am not going to write a long philosophical blog tonight. It's a 'school night' and I'm busy watching Match Choice and Match of the Day. For once I'm really looking forward to it.

Suffice to say, that it was nice to meet @sandyhoops properly, who has actually been sitting in front of me more years. And that I hugged about 6 people I really don't know. I hugged them after the second goal we scored thinking 'we've got a point yippeee'. And after the third goal it was almost an orgy. I actually cried some tears tonight because it felt like the most miraculous win ever. And even if Liverpool probably deserved to win, I think the QPR fans deserved this one tonight. It's been a long time coming.

As I say, this has got to go down in history whether we are relegated or not. Something like that Port Vale 4-4 draw all those years ago. Except this time, it's Liverpool. And it's a 3-2 win.

Your Rssssssss

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Football is a family

This weekend QPR didn't play. Being out of the FA Cup and having fixtures moved around to suit other teams and TV this was going to be a weekend free of disappointment and the need to critique, yet again, a miserably deteriorating team.

Thames Water, who I have an ongoing complaint with had made me stay in yet again this Saturday afternoon to install a meter. However, I did feel as if God had shined down upon me a little when I saw the line up of sports available to me from about 12 noon - FA cup ties, followed by three matches of rugby - the final one overlapping the Tottenham/Bolton FA Cup game. The chap who installed the meter noticed the sport on TV and had a little chat with me about how he thought none of our new players were really premiership players - who did he support? Millwall? In any case...things were getting on as they do on a fairly lazy Saturday afternoon.

After watching Wales' great victory, I decided to choose the football game over the next rugby game as I didn't feel there was a lot to play for, for England - obviously ignoring the fact that playing for pride can mean a lot.

And 41 minutes in to the Tottenham game I had my back to the TV as I was preparing some food - there was this strange sort of silence around the ground. This wasn't the normal sound you hear when a player goes down injured. It was almost immediate, and I stopped what I was doing and saw what was probably the most sad, and shocking thing I've seen in a long time - not just at a football game - but ever. Muamba's collapse in the middle of the pitch came completely out of the blue and because we saw the distress of the players of both teams around him it was obvious to everyone that this was really and truly serious. As the camera panned round to the fans around White Hart Lane you could see people's fear and anguish in their eyes. There were fans in tears. And everyone just stood in silence, save for a few chants of Muamba's name from both sets of fans.

As a QPR and a big supporter of football, and just 'as me' I pray that Muamba makes a safe recovery and survives.

Also, I am extremely touched and feel a little vindicated about the football community. Recently there has been (even among our small group of QPR fans), some debate, blogs and tweets about being PC or not PC, banter, homophobia, racism...what's acceptable, what's not. Even people saying we don't care if people don't like us QPR fans. All of this is light-hearted on the surface. But in my opinion, points to our need to identify ourselves and an important stage in how we develop. The simple fact that fans are even blogging and talking about these things is likely a world away from how we behaved a fifty or so years ago...probably even twenty years ago...While I appreciate some of the comments my esteemed blogger thisismyengland has made, I don't think that we're really that archaic. Maybe I'm naive.

Events like what happened yesterday puts things in to perspective, as everyone has said. But I would argue, that football is important in our lives and it certainly isn't trivial. Why? Because it's a reflection of who we are. And the way fans behaved yesterday negates all the things that people say about the footballing community. People there showed extreme respect and for me reflected utterly what is wonderful about us, and wonderful about England. And this is from someone who was born abroad and has only one half British, and I choose to call this place my very beloved home.

Muamba's family chose to call England their home. I am not entirely familiar with his story but I am hearing from news reports and seeing online that this is a life that has faced challenges that most of us would never even have in our nightmares. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most dangerous places in the world, and has a sad history. How everyone is behaving right now (apart from a handful of twitter idiots), is a reflection of how far we actually have come as a society. We constantly lambaste ourselves for our behaviour but I've always believed that when it comes to critical junctures we tend to do the right thing.

It is not only Muamba's life that has seen suffering though.  Life brings us all tough challenges and when a new one comes along things don't get easier, but the hope is that we are better equipped to face them than the last time around. In my twitter family I found out about Cosmo, a six week old boy who has suffered a massive heart attack. His father is a QPR fan and other fans have rallied round to try to raise money and awareness for what he has suffered. You can donate to help on this Justgiving page, and follow his progress on twitter @gtrafford.

In this day for families called 'Mothers Day', I also thank whoever is up there for making me a part of many great families.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Human Technology

Bolton 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

Another week, another loss. Seems that I decided to launch this blog at a bad time. What was light banter and nerves on twitter amongst the fans this morning has now turned in to little spats and lots of understandable anger and disappointment.

Today I was gutted not to be able to make the trip up to Bolton with the fifteen hundred or so Rangers fans. I was waiting for the lovely Thames Water to install a metre at my flat between the convenient hours of 1-5pm. And guess what? They never turned up. I will be having words on Monday morning. And considering this was in response to an already filed complaint I have with them I already feel sorry for the person that will be at the end of the line.

As I had a late one last night I had a nap straight after the match and having since woken (it's now nearly 7pm) I've decided not to look at the league table as it will only make me sad.

Most fans tend to believe that we just aren't good enough and that's why we are losing. And of course, that makes logical sense. At the end of the day the results speak for themselves. But does it really make sense? And why do I have such a feeling uncertainty, as opposed to just pure disappointment?

They say that at a certain level of professional athletics, that the difference between the winner of a race and everyone else is the self belief that they will win. It isn't even a case of thinking they might, or they can, but knowing that the will. And I can believe that, when you're talking about the best of the best - those that make it to the final of the 100m race. Their bodies are trained and honed to the most incredible levels and we can see with our very own eyes that physically there is little to separate the finalists. We're really talking in hundredths of a second. For my own self-worth I like to believe that about the things I do in my life. I like to think that if I have a positive mental attitude and believe I can do something, that I can do it. Every year I swim the Thames in the London Triathlon and last year I finally completed a sprint distance without crashing on my bike (which has happened twice and quite dangerously). While I do not consider myself in any way a serious athlete (absolutely far from it!), I do think it was the belief that I could finally complete the race unscathed that allowed me to do so.

However, consider Usain Bolt. The fact that he is just so physically formidable and incomparable to anyone else who has ever raced, and the fact that even when he doesn't really push himself sometimes and still wins...does make you think that sometimes, people are just really good and it doesn't even require an effort to believe because, well...that's just the way it is. That seems to be (for some people) the 'explanation' for our failures against 'better' teams at the moment.

But consider this: take away all the arguments about the fact that this is still a 'new team', that hasn't had the time to settle in... and really, we're talking about a group of players, each of them with an amazing pedigree. It felt good today when I watched Sky Sports and heard Gary Neville talk about the quality of our squad. But alas, the result would point to the fact that they just aren't playing very well. And indeed most fans believe we have a team of under performers. You know what? It's true. We dominated large parts of the game,  and while we arguably should have finished with a draw if that Clint Hill goal was not disallowed, we didn't take the chances that a team that believes it will win really should have taken. So although I don't agree that we played badly, I do think that a winning team takes the chances that it should and the difference between us and Bolton was purely psychological.

Then again, maybe it's because this is a situation none of us have ever been in before. All components are new: not just new team, but new owners, new management, new league (a Premier league which is at a completely different level to the one we left 16 years ago), and even some new fans.  All of these things impact on how people think, feel, and ultimately behave. I know as fans, we all say that we'll be there if we go down and of course we'll continue to support the Rs, but I am really enjoying (albeit somewhat masochistically) the Premiership life: all the coverage, the battles and passion that surrounds it - whether we are winning or losing. So for those fans that were at Euston this evening abusing the players as they arrived back - do you honestly think that behaviour is actually going to help your team perform better next time? All it does is make us look like thuggish supporters, and apart from it being an embarrassment it simply negative and it 'ain't' going to help the team psychologically.

I look forward to hearing from fellow blogger This is my England about what happened at the station. But the event leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

To end on a lighter note. It's been a lovely week for 'bonding' with the rest of the better fans. I've had so much fun this with the QPR twitter community. A big thanks out to @qprtillidie1882 for their great Thursday night quiz on Facebook. I was so engrossed in answering the questions that I apparently missed a legendary Messi performance (bothered?). And I've found some QPRPinoy QPR fans community. So for all the readers from the Philippines who are interested do contact me @elmodedude and let's see what we can do to help build up Rangers support.

All these wonderful interactions wouldn't be possible without the technology that we have today. If only the FA would hurry up with a very simple type of technology that could have made all the difference on another pretty rough day.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Different Perspective

Queens Park Rangers 1 Everton 1

This is the first Saturday in a while that I've actually felt pretty good at 4.50pm. No, we didn't win today, but the lads played lots of good football and worked extremely hard. I saw them play with a bit of passion and we all know that's been somewhat lacking in the last few weeks.

For me the difference was in our starting line up. While we are currently not in an ideal situation with a lack of forwards due to injuries and indiscipline, starting with Traore and keeping Taiwo on the bench was the right idea and probably a revelation for Hughes. QPR 'veterans' Derry and Buzsaky back in the team just felt more comfortable than last week's midfield. While these players wouldn't necessarily be first choice because of the 'sending offs', it actually all worked out quite well. There were a few wobbly moments but there were long periods in the game when I really thought we were going to get a second goal and win.

So all in all, a good day's work, and we still got a point out of it. Every point counts and I feel much better and more confident than last Saturday. I really hope today's game is the turning point.

Funnily enough, I thought one of the turning points today was the appearance of QPR Squirrel. Shamefully while the lads were playing some of their best football the rest of us (including me) were having fun watching the real '12th man' run in to the net. I have to say it added nicely to a general feeling of relief I had for a change - in the sense that we were finally playing well, and we still had the full team on the pitch. It's amazing how such juvenile things put a different slant on things. I am looking forward to seeing @QPRSquirrel blossom in to a QPR legend and hope he brings us luck in the coming months.

Today I took my old friend from university to the game. He's not really in to football and doesn't support a team but has always been open to a fun day out and naturally if he's anywhere near me and anyone asks, he's a QPR supporter! I had never taken him to Loftus Road before but I do vaguely remember taking him to a game many years ago when I think we were in League One. I believe it was an away game somewhere up North but I can't for the life of me remember where. My dear friend is in (some QPR fans would say) the unfortunate position of possessing the surname of Morrow. And being someone who was never particularly passionate about football, standing in an away stand watching and supporting QPR as we were then one can imagine the utter fear he felt when all he could hear behind him was 'f***ing Morrow'. Indeed, I remember this player only too well, not just because he was absolutely awful but also because that day my dear friend Mr Morrow felt mildly abused  by these London fans with their 'Southern' accents spouting out expletives. Little did anyone know it but Steve Morrow was about to score a goal (his only for the club). And again I don't know whether we won or lost...I can't even remember where it is (so if someone does know this fact: the one place Steve Morrow scored his goal for QPR please get in touch @elmodedude). I do remember thinking just how strange a turn of events a football game can bring and how addictive football is because of that.

So my friend who is visiting from Leeds only found out this morning that the Rangers have since moved up quite a lot in the world. 'I did wonder why you were playing Everton, but I didn't think to ask'. I enjoyed the few hours we spent on the tube and at the Springbok where I gave him a concise history of the last 12/13 years since I last took him, kidding myself a little bit that he was actually interested. I told him about all the managers and the billionaire owners, about the battle to get out of League One and going in to administration. I was just about to launch in to recommending to watch the Four Year Plan but realised that was just asking a little too much.

However, he did wear one of my scarves, and as we sat in a new seat at block JU for the day (not being able to get two seats together in my usual place), I was extremely impressed with his very loud 'Come on your Rs'. The view from behind the goal was a welcome change, and the atmosphere was also different with younger people about (I am told C block is for 'fossils'). I liked it. And as my friend and I took our seats and he asked me to remind him exactly what colours we'd be wearing so he doesn't cheer for the wrong team, I thought about how this time around he might feel a little different watching the Rangers from this perspective. This time, we are at home. This time, we're in the mighty Premier League. And this time even if he isn't interested in football he knows who Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton are. 

It just reminded me of what a long long way we've come as a club, as fans...and that for all the disappointment we feel and all the abuse we heap on the team week in week out, being where we are now is truly and wonderfully fun. And I am blessed to be a supporter of a great club, with a great new owner and special fans.

Thank you QPR